The EU's Eastern Partnership explained

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Lech in Warsaw asks: “The European Union is to hold its third Eastern Partnership Summit later this month in Vilnius. What is this partnership about?”

Response from Pierre Verluise, directeur of the geopolitical affairs website Diplowed.com:

“The Eastern Partnership is derived in a way from the European Neighbourhood Policy, which dates from 2004. The date is significant. 2004 marks the enlargement of the EU by 10 countries including eight countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

From 2009, the European Neighbourhood Policy developed a specific aspect concerning the eastern borders. The EU’s Eastern policy relates to six countries that are all former Soviet socialist republics; Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, but also in the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The main issue is the eastern borders of the European Union, the areas between the EU and Russia.

The idea is for every partner to play its own game. And what does the EU do in that respect? Well, the EU says: ‘primarily, you will not access EU institutions. However, we’re ready to support you, to help you, to fund you to adopt part of our ‘acquis communautaire’, or accumulated legislation, and to get closer to our standards.’

In fact, the underlying calculations divide the EU because if a country like France has no plans to integrate these six countries into the EU, a country like Poland instead – or at least some of the components of the Polish political class – wouldn’t mind seeing Ukraine, and why not one day Belarus, get closer to the EU. For Romania, it would be Moldova.

Partner countries are also on different wavelengths. For instance, Armenia is historically very close to Russia for a very simple reason: Turkey is on the other side of the Armenian border.

Under the outgoing president, Georgia was very close to the West in general, to NATO in particular and to the EU by default. Azerbaijan is a country with huge oil resources that obviously interest the EU.

So the calculations are strategic and geopolitical. It’s a question of power and obviously it’s about rubbing shoulders with Russia which also has a culture of geopolitics, strategy and the balance of power.”

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